Dear Book Pirates,
This should come as absolutely no surprise to you, at least, not from an author. Nor do I expect it to make a difference, since you seem to have this impermeable air of entitlement that allows you to believe what you do is somehow okay and that we authors are just a whiny, overprivileged lot.
An independent observer might think that we’re merely two sides at odds who misunderstand each other.
They’d be half right.
Because trust me, most authors? We understand book pirates. And we hate what you represent with every fiber of our being. Whereas book pirates? You don’t understand shit. Your willful and deliberate obtuseness keeps you from understanding that for every book you pirate, every download you facilitate, you’re contributing to the possible demise of that author’s career.
I’m not going to go into any painful, long breakdowns of how, exactly you cost us our livelihood. There are any number of posts and different articles around the internet that break down precisely how it hurts us. Seanan McGuire’s recent post is but one excellent example.
Look, I’m not naive enough to assume that every time a book is downloaded that it’s a lost sale. I know probably two-thirds or more of those people would have never bought my book and that they’re only downloading it because it’s there. It’s free. Like that guy who trolls the open bar at every wedding but would never dream of actually ponying up cash for a round at any other time. As long as someone else is paying, it doesn’t matter to him. Also? I’m a cynic. I’m not going to believe that bullshit some book pirates try to spew as justification that by pirating my books, it’s potentially broadening my audience, bringing my name to those who might not ever seen it otherwise. That you’re bringing books to the masses who can’t afford the overinflated prices of books.
I mean, come on. Are you hearing yourselves? Do you actually believe that nonsense? That you’re providing some sort of selfless public service?
Got news for you—libraries provide a public service. And they’ve paid for my books.
Do you honestly believe that someone spotting my name or book on an illegal file sharing site and maybe downloading the content is really going to go out and then buy my books or my backlist? Got a bridge in Brooklyn with your name on it, if you do.
Here’s the thing though—for every sale I do lose—it matters. It’s deeply important to me at this stage of my career because every sale matters towards my next potential contract, as in, whether I get one or not.
Not that a pirate cares.
After all, you’re just sticking it to the Man for charging too much for books. (Never mind that authors have no control over that.)
You’re just biding time until you have money to actually buy the physical book. (Except by the time you have the money, there’ll be another book, another author, and besides, you have my book already. Or perhaps there’s a movie you want to see, popcorn and Jujubes to buy and all that.)
There are always going to be other authors and other books. (True, but I’ll allow myself a moment of arrogance and say, they’re not me. And if it’s me you like, specifically, then you may well end up out of luck.)
They’re just words. Speech is free, haven’t we heard? (Not what freedom of speech means, you tool.)
They’re my words. And my worlds. And my creativity. And my time.
This is not merely an avocation, it’s my vocation. For those of you not understanding the big words, it’s my job.
How would you feel if your employer chose not to pay you your job wages for… say, a week or two… simply because you’ve done that same job the previous fifty or fifty-one weeks of the year? After all, it’s no big deal. You’ll do the same job the next week and you’ll get paid for it then. It all balances itself out.
Would you accept that explanation? Would you?
You know the answer to that. You know you wouldn’t. Hell, if you’re due paid vacation time, you’d squawk like a mad thing if you don’t get the money to which you’re entitled for sitting around and doing nothing.
So why on earth would you expect me to not fight for money that is rightfully mine? That I am due for doing my job?
Right. Because authors are overprivileged ninnies getting paid for sitting around and doing nothing. After all, writing a book is easy.
And if you believe that, I’ve still got that bridge in Brooklyn.
Oh, and by the way…